Community & Environment

Hamilton urged to ‘keep it clear’ when buying plastic bottles

Image of coloured plastic bottles

Hamiltonians are being encouraged to ‘keep it clear’ when choosing a soft drink bottle.

‘Keep it clear’ refers to choosing to buy clear soft drink and sports drink plastic bottles rather than coloured plastic bottles, which go to landfill.

Clear plastic bottles can be recycled up to nine times, which puts less stress on our environment to create more new plastic. Coloured plastic can be recycled, but dyes added to colour it, when its processed, it turns grey.

Coloured plastic with the recycling label 2 (HDPE or janitorial plastic) is generally household cleaning, hygiene product and milk bottles. This plastic is mainly white and has a market to be recycled for wheelie bins and plant pots. However, coloured plastic 1 (PET or food grade plastic), in particular soft drink and sports drink bottles, is harder to recycle and doesn’t have a market. Without a market, it’s worthless.

“This is where it becomes an issue,” said Hamilton City Council Rubbish and Recycling Transitional Manager Trent Fowles. “With no market for grey plastic, coloured plastics will just be sorted out at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and put into landfill.”

Approximately 1.2 tonnes of coloured plastic is heading to the Hamilton MRF each month.

Fowles said this isn’t an issue localised to Hamilton or even New Zealand. He hopes the market will change and a company will find a way to use grey plastic.

For that reason, Fowles said people can continue to put coloured plastic into their yellow bin. But until the market changes, he said we should try to reduce the amount we buy and keep it put of landfill.

“We know that companies and manufacturers play a big part in what is on the shelves, however as consumers, we make that choice to buy it or not.

“We want to do it right together, so to avoid sending plastic to landfill, ‘keep it clear’ when choosing a soft or sports drink bottle.”

Fowles said more and more companies are getting the message and switching their product over to clear plastic, there are only a few who need to catch up.

This does not affect coloured glass which can be recycled.

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